Better to have no agreement than a bad one, Anand Sharma at World Trade Organization meet

Dec 05 2013, 13:42 IST
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Trade minister Anand Sharma takes a question during a news conference at the ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua in Bali. (Reuters) Trade minister Anand Sharma takes a question during a news conference at the ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua in Bali. (Reuters)
SummaryBut India may seek negotiations post-Bali on issues of trade facilitation and public stockpiling of food.

India is likely to agree to eight of the 10 draft texts of the WTO during the ongoing Bali ministerial conference, but may seek negotiations post-Bali on the contentious issues of trade facilitation and public stockpiling of food.

However, the option to go in for a negotiation post–Bali would be a last resort and India continues to hope that a consensus will be arrived at over the next 48 hours.

“Those who are speaking up for the poor and the hungry people can not be blamed (if the conference collapses),” Sharma said, adding that he remains optimistic of a positive outcome.

But “it is better to have no outcome than a bad outcome,” Sharma said.

“An overwhelming majority of countries” who spoke on Wednesday represent two-thirds of the world’s population and share India’s concerns on food subsidy and stock piling of food grains, Sharma said.

“I would like to make this absolutely clear that we have not come here as petitioners to beg for a peace clause restrained from what that it is binding on us to accept 1986-88 prices and make ourselves vulnerable to disputes and calculations, the answer is firm no. This is a fundamental issue and we will never compromise,” he told reporters.

To build further support, he is set to hold talks over lunch with 14 countries including Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Venezuela, Nepal, Argentina and Egypt on Thursday.

He also stressed that India’s tough stance has nothing to do with the General Elections next years. “...it is not as if we have pulled a rabbit out of a hat,” he said at the specially called media briefing to explain India's stance at the WTO.

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